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Ken Borland



Officials bring Olympic honour to SA hockey 0

Posted on August 27, 2016 by Ken

 

The national men’s and women’s teams may not have been competing on the field, but tremendous honour and respect still came out of the Olympic Games for South African hockey thanks to the outstanding efforts of their officials.

That South African umpires are at the very top of the game was confirmed by John Wright and Michelle Joubert being appointed to handle the respective men’s and women’s finals.

For Wright, it capped a stellar career as it was the fifth Olympic Games he has officiated in and the second time he has been awarded the final, on what is likely to be his last umpiring stint at the global sporting showpiece.

“I was very pleased with the way things went, the Olympic Games has been the pinnacle of my career and it was a lovely way to end off. I’m very grateful that I have been given all the opportunity I could ever have wanted,” Wright said.

“It was a wonderful experience and I’m just so grateful for all the kind words and support from back home,” Joubert said. “It was a dream come true, just so exciting and I had a perfect time in Rio with so many happy memories.”

The experienced Wright had some kind words to say about his colleague as well.

“I believe Michelle is by far the best women’s umpire in the world and she had an exceptional tournament, even though she was battling injury. It did not hamper her in the final though, where she had a 26-year-old co-umpire, and she made a 100% correct call on the penalty stroke. Michelle has really come on leaps and bounds,” Wright said.

Joubert, the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH)’s 2015 Women’s Umpire of the Year, and Wright weren’t the only South Africans to feature in an Olympic hockey final as Deon Nel was the men’s video umpire.

Behind the scenes, Sheila Brown was the women’s tournament director and Marelize de Klerk the umpires’ manager.

A former umpire herself who was ranked number one in the world and was the first woman to officiate in 200 internationals, De Klerk blew in three Olympic Games from 2000-2008 before retiring in 2011 and becoming an umpires coach and recently a manager.

Brown is a stalwart of South African hockey and a veteran technical official and leading administrator. Her appointment was one of the highest honours in hockey and an enormous responsibility as the final authority at the event.

Brown, a colonel in crime intelligence, made her international debut as a judge in 1996 and was tournament director of the All-Africa Games in 2003. Since then she has been in charge of two World Cups. Brown was the assistant tournament director at both the Beijing and London Olympic Games.

Former national captain Marsha Cox nee Marescia may no longer be active as a player, but she was in Rio de Janeiro bringing over 300 international caps worth of experience to her new roles as a member of the appeal jury and the FIH’s athletes’ commission.

“I was really excited to be part of Rio 2016. Not only to be a part of the Olympic Games, but also to experience a country which I have never been to before. The logistics around the event itself definitely were not without their challenges, however I have no doubt that it’s these experiences which adds to the memories which will last a lifetime.

“In my personal preparations for Rio, my aim was to at least get to the semi-finals. We were told by our umpire’s managers that we would all average more or less four games in the tournament. I was appointed to the very first game of the women’s competition, and by the quarterfinals stage, I was on my fourth game already. Although I was happy with my own performances up to then, I knew that there were many other great umpires within our group and that appointments could go to anyone. I was also struggling with injuries on both my feet which left me doubting my future appointments for the last days.

“Upon receiving my appointment to the semi-finals, I was obviously delighted and happy that I was one step closer to my ‘real’ dream, which was the final. I had to get my mindset right to focus only on the semi, make sure I managed my injury and make sure I gave my best performance to at least be in the running for the final day’s appointments.

“Then the final day’s appointments came out. I had so many mixed emotions which ranged from feeling ecstatic about this achievement and also what it meant for South Africa and hockey in Africa. I felt empathy and disappointment for those who didn’t achieve their own goals and in that moment really lived their emotions as if they were my own. The feeling at that stage to me was bittersweet.

“I was also delighted for my appointed co-umpire for the final, Laurine Delforge, who has shown everyone that with talent, hard work and dedication, you do not always need years of experience in order to achieve success.

“The finals – wow, what an experience, what a game and what an atmosphere to be a part of! Both Laurine and I knew it would be a tough game, but we also understood that our game plan had to be slightly different to that of any normal game. We had to manage the game in such a way that hockey, as a top-class international sport, should be advertised and that we could be a part of its success or failure. We both enjoyed the match, the experience and obviously the actual appointment to the final of Rio 2016,” Joubert added.

http://www.sahockey.co.za/tournaments/ipt-women/253-sa-hockey-officials-at-the-olympics

Hockey is far from dying 0

Posted on May 08, 2016 by Ken

 

We are constantly being told that hockey is a dying game in South Africa, unloved by the politicians that run sport in this country and struggling to stay afloat as an amateur pursuit in this professional day and age.

But when I spent last week at the Senior Interprovincial Nationals – the most prestigious interprovincial tournament – in Randburg, I was delighted to be reacquainted with a vibrant sport that has passionate followers and a festive culture of its own.

At the top level, where our best hockey players continue to be denied opportunities to play on the biggest stages like the Olympics, there are obvious frustrations, but hockey is the epitome of a mass-participation sport at school, university and club level.

I was told stories of how traditional rugby schools are now finding greater numbers of children wanting to play hockey rather than the oval-ball game.

And in terms of transformation, the South African Hockey Association (Saha) have a good story to tell with numerous players of colour involved at IPT, including several Black coaches. The SA U21 team that made the men’s final included eight players of colour, including six Black Africans.

Saha’s wise policy of humouring and engaging with Sascoc and the minister of sport has paid off with Fikile Mbalula announcing a R10 million injection into hockey’s coffers two weeks ago.

Hockey has been operating on shoestring budgets ever since I began reporting on it back in the early 1990s, so any financial input is most welcome. It’s a well-known fact that our top players have been paying their own way to compete and represent South Africa, something Tubby Reddy and Gideon Sam of Sascoc should choke on the next time they sit down for their sumptuous dinner on their next first-class flight to their next jaunt.

Due to these financial constraints, hockey, at top level, has been forced to become a sport for the young. Once the stars leave their places of tertiary education, the demands of work make it just about impossible for them to dedicate the time they need to remaining in peak shape for the game. It was noticeable how young most of the teams at IPT looked, to such an extent that it reminded me of an U21 interprovincial.

A handful of internationals have been able to become professional players in Europe.

Like cricket, it’s probably fair to say that hockey had its stronghold in English-speaking areas like Natal, Cape Town and Johannesburg, but this has changed dramatically. Northerns, with many Tuks students in their ranks, won the women’s IPT and Afrikaans schools have taken to the game with gusto, as they have to cricket. There is already an explosion of interest amongst the Coloured and Black communities.

In terms of marketing, hockey has much going for it. It has a strong youth flavour (which is always attractive) but it is a sport entire families can participate in, with leagues running from the youngsters through to the Masters, from highly-competitive to social. It is also a game that is evolving into a high-speed, highly entertaining spectacle thanks to the work of the FIH, the international body, in tinkering with the rules.

Saha president Mike du Plessis was telling me about the exciting plans they have for festivals of five-a-side hockey in which the whole family can be involved at the same venue.

Hockey should not be embarrassed that it needs money, sometimes the local game suffers under the impression that they are the ugly step-child of South African sport.

I say they should be bold about their needs, because they have much to offer and there are certainly exciting plans in the pipeline.

WP Peninsula ready for the move back to A Section 0

Posted on May 03, 2016 by Ken

 

Western Province Peninsula ensured that they will move back into the hockey IPT A Section should there be promotion as they clinched the men’s B Section title in the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals with a convincing 5-1 victory over KZN Mynahs in the final in Randburg on Saturday.

Peninsula went into a 2-0 lead at halftime through a penalty stroke by Reece Arendse and a field goal by Warren McEwan and, although Mynahs pulled a goal back through Kovin Moodley four minutes after the break, the WP B side made their move early in the final quarter as McEwan completed his hat-trick with two impressive field goals in two minutes.

Kyle Lottering added the finishing touches to an impressive week for Peninsula, who won the A IPT in 2014 in one of the most sensational results in SA hockey history, as he added the fifth goal three minutes from time.

North-West enjoyed a small consolation for their semifinal defeat in a shootout at the hands of the Mynahs as they won the bronze medal with a 6-3 win over Zimbabwe, dominating the second half with Francois Cilliers scoring a brace.

B Section results

Men’s B Section final: WP Peninsula 5 (Reece Arendse, Warren McEwan [3], Kyle Lottering) KZN Mynahs 1 (Kovin Moodley).

Women’s B Section final: WP Peninsula 2 (Kayde Miller, Robyn Pinder) KZN Mynahs 1 (Stacey Hiron).

Men’s B Section bronze medal: North-West 6 (Francois Cilliers [2], Killian Ludick, Mitesh Makan, Neil van Onselen, Pierre Bothma) Zimbabwe 3 (Luckson Sikisa, Edwin Tholanah, Arnold Mpofu).

Women’s B Section bronze medal: Zimbabwe 4 (Michelle Williams [2], Michelle Mollins [2]) KZN Inland 0.

Men’s B Section: 5th-6th SA Country Districts 2 (Ryan Innes, Etienne Blatt) Northerns B 1 (Reece Mowatt); 7th-8th Eastern Gauteng 3 (Kyle Cameron, Darren Ellis, Bradley Nunn) KZN Inland 0.

Women’s B Section: 5th-6th Mpumalanga 2 (Jeanri Naude, Linze Liversage) Southern Gauteng Nuggets 1 (Jerri Dennyschen); 7th-8th SA Country Districts 5 (Robyn Morgan, Anel Beukes, Marelie Devereux  [2], Andri van Heerden) Northerns B 3 (Chanel Dippenaar, Hanlie Podd, Ane Luus).

Final placings

Men: 1 WP Peninsula; 2 KZN Mynahs; 3 North-West; 4 Zimbabwe; 5 SA Country Districts; 6 Northerns B; 7 Eastern Gauteng; 8 KZN Inland.

Women: 1 WP Peninsula; 2 KZN Mynahs; 3 Zimbabwe; 4 KZN Inland; 5 Mpumalanga; 6 Southern Gauteng Nuggets; 7 SA Country Districts; 8 Northerns B.

http://www.sahockey.co.za/tournaments/229-wp-peninsula-men-claim-b-section-crown

Hockey’s junior stars are talented & transformed 0

Posted on May 03, 2016 by Ken

 

The South African men’s U21 team played in the final of the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals in Randburg on Saturday, showing that there is plenty of young talent coming through the ranks. But they are also thoroughly transformed with eight players of colour in the squad, including six Black Africans, showing that hockey is heading away from the representivity frustrations that have dogged them in the past.

And while “quotas” is a word bandied about by the older generation, it is not a hip word when it comes to hockey’s rising young talent.

“It hasn’t been difficult at all to find players of colour for the team because these guys have come through the age-groups, they’ve played together in the U16s and U18s, where there is a heck of a lot of good quality. The core of this side have played Tests together for the SA U18s and made the Junior Olympics semi-finals with the SA U17s, both under Neville Rothman, my assistant coach.

“So there are no quota – I hate that word – players in the team. They were all born after 1995 and have played in every national team together, so there is no baggage. They say it themselves in team meetings that the colour of your skin makes no difference. There’s a very positive feeling in this squad, there’s such a positive culture,” SA U21 coach Garreth Ewing said.

The players of colour in the current squad that is beating seasoned professionals at the senior IPT are composed midfielder Tyson Dlungwana, defender Nduduza Lembethe, Ryan Julius, an elusive runner with the ball, forward Khumo Mokale, the skilful Nqobile Ntuli, pacy Tevin Kok, solid Amkelwa Letuka and goalkeeper Siyavuya Nolutshungu, and they would comfortably be playing in this IPT for their provincial sides were they not on national duty.

“Obviously we do pay close attention to the players of colour, but a lot of them are our best players. Some of them are going to be superstars. They have a long way to go, but their ability and decision-making under pressure is already so good. I can’t wait to see where they all go, six of them already have full national caps,” Ewing said.

Ewing, who has considerable experience coaching both locally and internationally, clearly likes the emphasis on bringing through players of colour that has to be there if South African hockey are to get back to where they want to be – in the upper echelons of the world game.

“What is coming through underneath shows that there is so much potential. We’re not afraid of targets, we embrace them. Things don’t happen overnight, but we’re getting there. The guys play with such joy and style, their hockey is so attractive,” Ewing said.

Most encouragingly, Black coaches are also starting to come through. The losing semi-finalists, KZN Raiders and the Northerns Blues, are coached by Sihle Ntuli and Krinesan Moodley respectively. WP Peninsula are coached by Denzil Dolley and the team they played in the B Section final, KZN Mynahs, are mentored by Sharmin Naidoo

Patrick Tshutshani is Ewing’s counterpart with the junior women, Ryan Pillay coached the Western Province women’s team and even the Mpumalanga women’s team have a Black African coach in Brighty Mshaba.

Numerous other players of colour have shone with Jermaine Johnson and Julian Hykes both playing key roles in getting Southern Gauteng into the men’s final, while Pierre de Voux of Western Province and KZN’s Mohamed Mea are two newer players that are going to have the national selectors’ eyes on them.

The story is the same in the women’s section: Southern Gauteng are going to take on Northerns Blues in the final with Sanani Mangisa their stalwart in goal and Toni Marks and Lisa Hawker two of their man threats up front.

Northerns have Mmatshepo Modipane in goal.

But there is a challenge that SA Hockey will need outside help to overcome and, as ever, it is a financial one.

“The financial challenges for the previously disadvantaged players is huge. Consider the cost of going to our world cup – and the players have to pay! My biggest fear is having to leave someone behind because they can’t afford it,” Ewing says sombrely.



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